Seismic activity on the moon detected

A distinctive landform known as a lobate scarp caused by a thrust fault. Image captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

A distinctive landform known as a lobate scarp caused by a thrust fault. Image captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

"We have found that a series of quakes from the 'Apollo'recordings have taken place very close to the fracture zones from the LRO shots", said Co-author Nicholas Schmerr, University of Maryland in College Park. It was unclear what the reaction in Congress would be.

The additional funds would bring the budget request total for the NASA programme to $22.6bn.

The newly accelerated goal - an endeavor likely to cost tens of billions of dollars - comes as NASA has struggled with the help of private partners to resume human space missions from US soil for the first time since the shuttle program ended in 2011. It provides $1 billion for initial development of a two- or three-stage lander that would include a "descent" module (to carry the crew down to the surface) and an "ascent" module on top of that (to blast the crew back toward lunar orbit). The algorithm, called LOCSMITH, works by looking at the uncertainties in the seismic waves arrival time to help it work out where it started from. At the moment, NASA now does not have the ability to fly astronauts anywhere in space. But the lunar faults, like Earth's own fault lines, are similar in that occur where pieces of the surface sometimes rub against each other, causing quakes that can reverberate throughout the planet.

Artemis was also selected by a team competing for NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contract.

"It's really remarkable to see how data from almost 50 years ago and from the LRO mission has been combined to advance our understanding of the moon while suggesting where future missions intent on studying the moon's interior processes should go", said Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Project Scientist John Keller.

"This is exciting as it wasn't clear if the moon had already gone through this period billions of years ago and was tectonically dead, or if it was still active in the present", Schmerr said.

After Trump's announcement Monday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted: "This is the boost @NASA needs to move forward with putting the next man and the first woman on the Moon". $132 million of the proposed additional funding goes towards exploration technology, part of which is allocated for an in-site resource utilization (ISRU) demonstration. "But this is a good amount that gets us out of the gate in a very strong fashion".

Astronaut James Irwin, lunar module pilot, gives a military salute while standing beside the US flag during Apollo 15 lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA) at the Hadley-Apennine landing site on the moon, August 1, 1971.

While that is a more ambitious endeavor, Bridenstine has said the agency wants to go back to the moon - but this time in order to stay.

Bridenstine said the name Artemis represents the program's goal of inclusion.

It is was not clear what the reaction in Congress would be. "We all know that", he said. "I think there's a lot of excitement on both sides of the aisle", he said.

NASA's plans for manned launches with SpaceX have recently faltered after a vessel exploded during testing in April.

A few hours later, Bridenstine found himself before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, talking up the Artemis moon plan.

Right now it's unknown who the first woman to ever walk on the moon's surface will be.

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